A report in Vanity Fair details actions by some members of the U.S. State Department to block efforts to investigate the origins of the coronavirus because the inquiry could open “a can of worms.” An internal memo sent to department heads by Thomas DiNanno, former acting assistant secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, warned “not to pursue an investigation into the origin of COVID-19.”
The “can of worms” in question was the extensive funding by the U.S. government into the Wuhan Virology Lab’s “gain-of-function” virus research. It’s unclear whether DiNanno was concerned that an investigation would uncover evidence of a lab leak or the extent to which the U.S. was funding dangerous research.
Indeed, there’s a lot more going on with this gain-of-function research than has ever been revealed. There appears to be a powerful lobby within the U.S. government that is heavily invested in the dangerous research and is serious about keeping it quiet. Former CDC chairman Robert Redfield received death threats from fellow scientists after telling CNN that he believed COVID-19 had originated in a lab.
“I was threatened and ostracized because I proposed another hypothesis,” Redfield told Vanity Fair. “I expected it from politicians. I didn’t expect it from science.”
Going back to the beginning of the pandemic, ostracizing and ridiculing those who mentioned the lab-leak theory became common. It stems from a letter published in the medical journal Lancet, as the VF artice points out.
On February 19, 2020, The Lancet, among the most respected and influential medical journals in the world, published a statement that roundly rejected the lab-leak hypothesis, effectively casting it as a xenophobic cousin to climate change denialism and anti-vaxxism. Signed by 27 scientists, the statement expressed “solidarity with all scientists and health professionals in China” and asserted: “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin.”
That was enough for the American media, which was in no mood to give Donald Trump a break in reporting on the virus. But why dismiss a hypothesis when no one had gathered any evidence of how the virus originated?
Then came the revelation that the Lancet statement was not only signed but organized by a zoologist named Peter Daszak, who has repackaged U.S. government grants and allocated them to facilities conducting gain-of-function research—among them the WIV itself. David Asher, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, ran the State Department’s day-to-day COVID-19 origins inquiry. He said it soon became clear that “there is a huge gain-of-function bureaucracy” inside the federal government.
Daszak, you may recall, is the founder and president of EcoHealth Alliance and was one of the primary investigators hired by the WHO to go to China and discover the origins of the coronavirus, even though he had a conflict of interest in investigating the Wuhan lab due to his arranging U.S. government funding for the lab’s gain-of-function research.
The “gain-of-function bureaucracy” inside the U.S. government was very busy in 2020.
As officials at the meeting discussed what they could share with the public, they were advised by Christopher Park, the director of the State Department’s Biological Policy Staff in the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, not to say anything that would point to the U.S. government’s own role in gain-of-function research, according to documentation of the meeting obtained by Vanity Fair.
Some of the attendees were “absolutely floored,” said an official familiar with the proceedings. That someone in the U.S. government could “make an argument that is so nakedly against transparency, in light of the unfolding catastrophe, was…shocking and disturbing.”
More disturbing was the role that Park played in lifting the moratorium on funding gain-of-function research.
Park, who in 2017 had been involved in lifting a U.S. government moratorium on funding for gain-of-function research, was not the only official to warn the State Department investigators against digging in sensitive places. As the group probed the lab-leak scenario, among other possibilities, its members were repeatedly advised not to open a “Pandora’s box,” said four former State Department officials interviewed by Vanity Fair. The admonitions “smelled like a cover-up,” said Thomas DiNanno, “and I wasn’t going to be part of it.”
Eventually, efforts to cover up the mystery of the origin of the virus failed, and U.S. intelligence as well as the state department and national security agency are going full bore trying to uncover the truth. They won’t be able to succeed without the full cooperation of the Chinese Communists, which is why there will always be a question of whether the virus occurred naturally and was transmitted to humans as viruses have done for tens of thousands of years, or it was a careless leak in a lab.